Lawrence: Handicapping NFL Championship Games

And then there were four.

NFL’s version of the ‘Final Four’ kicks off this Sunday in the Championship Games where surprises aplenty have certainly been the buzzword.

That’s confirmed by the fact that underdogs have managed to pull off upsets in 14 of 44 title games since the 1990 season, the most recent being the New York Giants win at San Francisco last season en route to capturing Super Bowl XLIV.

Let’s take a quick look at what’s worked and what hasn’t in the Championship Games, because when it comes to handicapping games at this stage of the season we can use every edge imaginable.

Note: all results are ATS (Against The Spread) and are since the 1990 season, unless noted otherwise.

Gravity Alert


While high-scoring games are the norm in the NFL these days, teams arriving to the Championship Round off a high-scoring effort in their last game tend to come back to earth harder than a skydiver with a faulty chute.

Consider: nearly half of the 17 teams in this round who put 38 or more points on the scoreboard in a Divisional Round victory fell short of the Super Bowl, going 9-8 straight-up.

Worse, these teams are just 9-8 SU and 4-13 ATS, including 1-12 ATS when facing a foe that tallied less than 34 points in its previous game.

With Baltimore and New England canceling one another out, that puts San Francisco on warning this Sunday.

Situational Circumstances

The linemakers have done a nice job overall during this round, with favorites checking in at 23-21 ATS, and home teams 20-24 ATS.

Home chalk of 9 or more points has struggled, though, posting a dismal 2-8 ATS mark.

In addition, teams who played in a Wild Card game are 11-13 SU and 14-10 ATS in title tilts, including 5-0 ATS when facing opposition that scored more than 35 points in the division round.

That’s music to the ears of Baltimore backers.

Over There


Points aplenty in this league of late have forced the linesmakers to raise the over/under totals bar.

It's what happens when there have been 27 OVERS and 17 UNDERS in Championship Games.

Surprisingly, the higher the total the more OVERS there have been as games with a posted total set at 46 or more points going 9-3 OVER.

Been There Done That


Three of the four head coaches have had the luxury of coaching teams in Championship Games – namely Bill Belichick and the Harbaugh brothers, Jim and John.

Jim’s Ravens are 0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS, while John’s 49ers fell as 2-point home favorites last year.

New England’s Belichick brings a lofty 5-1 SU and 3-3 ATS record with the Patriots in Championship Games.  The Hoodie has been favored by 7 or more points in two of those contests, losing the money both times – including last year’s 23-20 win-no-cover over the Ravens.

Enjoy the games and good luck as always.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for our Editorial Team, please contact us at Editorial

            share   SHARE   rss   RSS FEED   email   EMAIL   print   PRINT
Hide All Responses
avatar

Posted by yaz
1 year ago

Meaty stuff. Look for Kaepernick to find life on the playoff road a lot different than at home.
avatar

Posted by JOZUFF
1 year ago

u people fn amaze me u better b glued new england covers AGAIN!!! AND SAN FRAN
avatar

Posted by JOZUFF
1 year ago

N DONT SAY I NEVER TOLD YA !!!
avatar

Posted by MTFN50
1 year ago

I have ATL winning 31-24 . And the Ravens get there revenge with the better DEf,better ruunning game,better recievers, Ravens win28-24
avatar

Posted by wde
1 year ago

OK Marc, I get your point and agree. Here is my picks, New England wins, But not by 9.5 24 / 17 Atlanta wins by 3, 23 / 20
         1      
You are currently not logged in.
Login | Signup | Help
You must be logged in to post a comment.

Top Response

Posted by wde
1 year ago

"OK Marc, I get your point and agree. Here is my picks, New England wins, But not by 9.5 24 / 17 Atlanta wins by 3, 23 / 20"